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Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion Paperback – February 22, 2011

4.8 out of 5 stars 952 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this artful, disquieting, yet surprisingly jubilant memoir, Jesuit priest Boyle recounts his two decades of working with homies in Los Angeles County, which contains 1,100 gangs with nearly 86,000 members. Boyle's Homeboy Industries is the largest gang intervention program in the country, offering job training, tattoo removal, and employment to members of enemy gangs. Effectively straddling the debate regarding where the responsibility for urban violence lies, Boyle both recounts the despair of watching the kids you love cooperate in their own demise and levels the challenge to readers to stand in awe at what the poor have to carry rather than stand in judgment at how they carry it. From moving vignettes about gangsters breaking into tears or finding themselves worthy of love and affirmation, to moments of spiritual reflection and sidesplittingly funny banter between him and the homies, Boyle creates a convincing and even joyful treatise on the sacredness of every life. Considering that he has buried more than 150 young people from gang-related violence, the joyful tenor of the book remains an astounding literary and spiritual feat. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Destined to become a classic of both urban reportage and contemporary spirituality.”

—"The Los Angeles Times

"

"Incandescent, always hope-filled and often hilarious. Boyle somehow maintains an exuberant voice that celebrates the strength, compassion and humanity of people often demonized. He simply highlights charity and goodness wherever they are found. Boyle intersperses his narratives about gang members and his work with them with theological and spiritual reflections from a variety of theologians, poets and other writers. By introducing book-buying, highly educated readers to people we may never otherwise encounter, Boyle aspires to "broaden the parameters of our kinship.'"--"The Christian Century"

"Father Boyle reminds us all that every single child and youth is a part of God's 'jurisdiction'--and when they know that we are seeing them as God does, they are capable of great things. Father Boyle is a national treasure."

--MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN, PRESIDENT, CHILDREN'S DEFENSE FUND

"A spiritual masterpiece touching the innermost sanctum of the human soul. Boyle approaches each person as a child of God and fully deserving of love and compassion. His capacity to reach the heart of the most hardened, and to see the best in everyone, inspires. I laughed, wept, and underlined on virtually every page."

--KERRY KENNEDY, FOUNDER OF THE RFK CENTER FOR JUSTICE AND HUMAN RIGHTS

"One of the bravest, most humane, heartbreaking, brilliant, and hopeful stories I've read in ages. Father Greg, the Gandhi of the Gangs, fills Tattoos with unquenchable soul force and down-to-earth love." --JACK KORNFIELD, AUTHOR OF A PATH WITH HEART

"Tattoos on the Heart is an astounding book and a remarkable testament. No one brings more triumph and tragedy to the street gang story than Greg Boyle. No one brings more conviction and compassion than Greg Boyle. And no one writes the gang story more beautifully."

--MALCOLM KLEIN, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

"Sometimes we are allowed to see in our own lifetimes what we were supposed to see in the life and ministry of Jesus. Read, and let your life be changed!"

--FATHER RICHARD ROHR, O.F.M., CENTER FOR ACTION AND CONTEMPLATION, ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO

"Destined to become a classic of both urban reportage and contemporary spirituality."

--"The Los Angeles Times

"

"An astonishing book . . . about suffering and dignity, death and resurrection, one of my favorite books in years. It is lovely and tough and tender beyond my ability to describe and left me in tears of both sorrow and laughter."--ANNE LAMOTT, AUTHOR OF GRACE (EVENTUALLY)

"Tattoos on the Heart is an honest, raw, and compelling collection from Father Greg Boyle's life and work with gang-involved youth. His commitment should teach us all a lesson in compromise, sharing, learning, loving, and, most important, living life to the fullest." --ANJELICA HUSTON

"An extraordinary reflection of a life totally committed to reshaping and redirecting the lives of countless young gang members (from L.A.'s gang culture), Greg Boyle's Tattoos on the Heart proves one man with courage is a majority." --MARTIN SHEEN

"Destined to become a classic of both urban reportage and contemporary spirituality."

--"The Los Angeles Times

"

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 217 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (February 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439153159
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439153154
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (952 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Gonzalez on March 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's about what it means to be human, to seek the goodness within ourselves and everyone and everything around us. It is thoroughly entertaining, instructional, thought-provoking, inspirational, faith-restoring... I am halfway through the book and torn between devouring the rest in one sitting or drawing it out as long as possible. It's one of those books that you know you will be sad when you reach the end because you loved it so much.
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Format: Hardcover
I heard Fr. Greg Boyle speak a few years ago at a conference in Los Angeles and he is without question the best speaker I have ever heard. What is so impressive about his faith journey is that it is lived. The stories of human transformation described in the book are some of the most moving and inspiring spiritual narratives that I have encountered. At a time when it is so easy to become so cynical about institutional faith his writing breaks through with a spiritual force that reminds us of true meaning of faith.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Whenever Fr. quotes one of the "homies," I cannot help but cry. The simple yet deep wisdom they speak makes this very slow and prayerful reading. I have to stop and meditate. It is hard only because I also want to rush through the pages. The writing is fascinating and inspired! It's on my kindle, but know it's a book I want on my shelves. This is gospel!
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Format: Hardcover
Tattoos of the Heart by Father Gregory Boyle is the kind of book I want to press into the hands of everyone I know to make them read it and love it as I do. Boyle is the creator of Homeboy Industries which employs gang members in Los Angeles. Originally a bakery, it has grown to a silk screening business, graffiti removal business, plus more. They provide counseling, tattoo removal, and a wide range of other services for the entire community. Boyle fills the book with an assortment of anecdotes from the hilarious to the outrageous to the tragic. While reading, I kept sharing different stories aloud with my husband, because they are so stunning, I just had to share them. The message that Boyle wants his readers to get is that every single one of these gangbangers, no matter how hardcore, are in need of love, and to know that they have personal worth and value. He has faced a lot of prejudice in his dealings with them, and to the average reader, some of these people are truly frightening, but Boyle makes them always human and fragile. He speaks their language and gives them the opportunity to get a job, and to shatter the limitations imposed upon them by a variety of societal conditions. Boyle doesn't just share the "success" stories, but he wants to change the reader's definition of success. It can't be measured by a number of jobs or education, but by the number of hearts changed permanently by an organization who pours out the unconditional love of God. I dare you to read this book and not be moved by the stories within. Try not to cry as a mother loses yet another son to senseless violence. Don't smile when reading as a former gangbanger shares how he reads stories with his children each night before bed. These stories will tattoo themselves onto your heart.
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Format: Hardcover
I wasn't sure what to expect when I opened up the book, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle, a Jesuit Priest and Founder/Executive Director of Homeboy Industries, an organization that provides jobs, job training, and encouragement to those wanting to remove themselves from gang participation. Although there were certain areas I disagreed with Boyle regarding his view of scripture, the book as a whole was well worth the read.

Pastor Gregory Boyle has a very witty way of telling stories of his involvement with gang members and their families. His stories about suffering are both full of laughter and sorrow. The message of this book is bold: Everyone of us - whether gang member, flight attendant, or car shop owner; can break down walls and be a part of the same "jurisdiction". His stories grabbed at my heart and pulled me in as if I was there. The book challenged me to think outside of my box and reconsider the unlovely among me. How can I show them love?

The thing I loved the most about this book is the revealing nature of these gangsters, or as Boyle calls them, "Homies". When you stripped away the anger and pain, you got a view of the things they carry so close to them: shame, defeat, loss, fear, and a basic need to be loved. It would be easy to judge such people as "lost causes" or "hopeless", but Boyle allows us to see things in his world and the view is amazing.

Boyle has chosen to "live among them" and lets us into his sorrowful, violent, and sometimes comical world. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to see the world through compassionate eyes, at the same time being able to laugh at some of the hilarious stories that Boyle tells. All proceeds from the sale of this book go back to Homeboy Industries where "homies" are given the tools to get on their feet and leave their life of violence. It's one more reason I applaud Gregory Boyle and his ever-growing compassionate heart.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Greg Boyle is one of the greatest persons I've ever known. The stories are riveting along with the spiritual insight. I was impressed how he wrote the short story about the passing of his own father and how his mother's pillow played a part of that same story. My wife and I also breathe in the scents of each other when the other is not there.

Tattoos on the Heart is all about the kinship we should all be sharing with each other, and that God asks us to be kind, loving and compassionate with each other. This book helps to reaffirm the ultimate goal in life.
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